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It’s First and Din for Chargers : Football: Celebration is on after 21-13 victory over the Raiders snaps the Chargers’ eight-game losing streak.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

City officials, undoubtedly caught by surprise, indicated there are no plans for a parade.

City offices will remain open and classes will not be canceled. Mail will be delivered.

The Chargers are off Tuesday, but have not yet indicated if they will be agreeable to meeting President Bush should an invitation be extended to visit the White House.

“Hey, it’s just a win,” said linebacker Leslie O’Neal after the Chargers upset the Raiders, 21-13 in the Coliseum in front of 42,787. “We should have been winning a long time ago. My expectations are more than just getting one win.”

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Who’s he kidding?

Hard to imagine the Atlanta Braves doing any more hooting and hollering than the Chargers did Sunday after putting an end to the NFL’s longest losing streak, eight games.

“I told you we’d win, I told you,” shouted cornerback Sam Seale, who boldly predicted a victory earlier in the week. “Put that in your paper: Sam Seale said the Chargers were going to beat the Raiders.”

The Chargers (1-5) had dropped eight consecutive non-strike games to the Raiders (3-3) in the Coliseum. But they got daring play-calling from Coach Dan Henning, a big-league performance from quarterback John Friesz, uncharacteristic success on third down and another down and dirty defensive effort to spring an upset.

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“Hell, it’s a good win,” Henning said. “Under the conditions, it’s as good a win as any game I’ve ever won in LA. I was in a Super Bowl (with Washington) here and won, and when I was with the Falcons we beat the Rams out here for Atlanta’s only win on the West Coast. I’ll take this one and put it with those two; that’s how good it is to me.

“When you’re 0-5 any win is sweet, but it’s a heckuva lot better to come out of it against the Raiders in LA than (against) another 0-5 team. I have a great deal of feeling for these players that have hung in here for the last five or six weeks. That’s the most important thing; they stuck together.”

In the closing seconds of the first half, the players crowded around Henning. They trailed the Raiders, 10-7, but they had the ball fourth and goal at the Raider one with seven seconds to play.

Henning considered calling on John Carney for an 18-yard field-goal try but ultimately listened to his players.

“I thought the players deserved a touchdown,” Henning said. “They (Raiders) had held Craig McEwen on second down, and our guys felt they deserved a touchdown.

“When they came to the sideline on fourth down they felt like they could get it in, and they didn’t care what play we called. John (Friesz) wanted to pass, (Marion) Butts wanted to run, Rod (Bernstine) wanted to run, and we boiled it down to two things and decided to run the ball.”

The Chargers opted to run a trap. They needed a block from center Courtney Hall, movement from rookie guard Eric Moten and a block on the inside linebacker by guard David Richards. If all failed, "(the Raiders) still had to stop a 250-pound guy with momentum,” Henning said.

Before calling the play in the huddle, Friesz patted each of his offensive lineman on the shoulder pads and told them success rested on their efforts. Then he turned and gave a pep talk to Butts, who had spent the timeout lobbying for the ball.

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“I kept saying, ‘Hey, give me the ball,’ and evidently it got back to Coach Henning,” Butts said.

Friesz handed the ball to Butts, and he made like a submarine taking a frantic dive from the enemy into the end zone. “I saw Robert Delpino go under the pile against the Giants (on TV a few weeks ago), and I thought that was a good move.”

Butts’ touchdown plunge sent the Chargers to the locker room with their first half-time lead of the season.

The Raiders, however, pulled to within a point of the Chargers on Jeff Jaeger’s 34-yard field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter. Their next drive, however, ended in a fumble, a recovery by Chargers linebacker Henry Rolling and a return for 53 yards to the Raiders’ 13.

“That’s just the way we planned it,” said Ron Lynn, Charger defensive coordinator. “We had Hack (linebacker coach Mike Haluchak) signal in the fumble play and that was that.”

Nose tackle Joe Phillips knocked the ball from Roger Craig’s hands at the Chargers’ 34-yard line, and the ball rolled almost to a stop before anyone noticed it was free. Rolling was the first to pick it up, and he was run out of bounds by quarterback Jay Schroeder.

“We’ve been getting that kind of effort from these guys all along,” Lynn said, “but we just haven’t come up with the doggone big plays. The worm has turned a little bit in terms of tipped balls, and we got a couple today and that ends up being the difference in the ballgame.”

The Chargers cashed in on Rolling’s fumble return a few moments later when Friesz beat a Raiders’ blitz and completed a two-yard touchdown pass to Butts. It was Butts’ first touchdown since, “I can’t remember when,” he said.

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Bernstine, who gained 66 yards on 19 carries and scored the Chargers’ first touchdown of the game, delivered a time-saving block on linebacker Winston Moss to give Friesz the chance to connect with Butts.

“It’s the same play we ran with linebacker Gary Plummer last year,” Henning said. “With Butts in there now, he gives us a guy who can run, block and catch.”

The Raiders’ attempted rally went awry a few minutes later at the Chargers’ 39-yard line when Rolling intercepted a tipped pass off the hands of Mervyn Fernandez. The Chargers then ran more than five minutes off the clock before turning the ball back to the Raiders.

Donnie Elder downed John Kidd’s punt on the Raiders’ one-yard line with 3:08 to play, and anyone who has watched the Chargers falter down the stretch in recent years still had to be concerned.

But Schroeder’s third-down pass to Tim Brown bounced off the receiver’s hands and into the arms of Chargers cornerback Gill Byrd. The upset now was complete.

“We were atrocious as a team,” Raiders defensive lineman Howie Long said. “We didn’t cover kicks. We weren’t good on the return aspect. We dropped balls. We didn’t block. We didn’t tackle. We didn’t cover. We were terrible. It’s a major disappointment.”

The Chargers converted eight of 15 third-down plays, rushed for 158 yards and rolled up 112 yards on four kickoff returns. In winning his first game as an NFL starter after six losses, Friesz completed 12 of 22 passes for 118 yards and ran 11 yards for a first down.

“This team has been on a long streak of disappointing losses and it has taken a lot of abuse,” Phillips said. “Now we’re just a bunch of happy guys.”


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